Grand theft refers to a variety of crimes in which property is stolen or deception is used to obtain that property without the owner’s consent. The meaning of the term varies widely among jurisdictions and as such, law enforcement agencies around the world have different names for this crime. In Florida, you can be charged for grand theft if you intentionally obtain or use someone else’s property without their consent.
In some jurisdictions, grand theft is a “petty crime” whereas burglary, embezzlement, and robbery are considered “serious crimes.” In some countries grand theft auto (GTA) is considered a grave crime and is usually punished severely.
This typically means it falls under the jurisdiction of the Serious Crimes Branch, or similar department.
What Does Grand Theft Include?
Theft or taking of property or items of value that are worth over a specified amount. Depending on the jurisdiction and nature of the stolen property, grand theft may be prosecuted as a felony – a crime punishable by imprisonment for three years or more – or as a misdemeanor – a crime punishable by imprisonment for less than three years. An example of grand theft as a misdemeanor would be unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
In Florida, the punishments for grand theft vary depending on the type of property stolen.
A third degree felony for grand theft includes up to 5 years of prison time or probation and a fine of $5,000. You can be charged for a third degree felony for stealing:
- Any property that is valued at $750 or more but less than $20,000
- A firearm
- A motor vehicle
- A fire extinguisher in a building
- A commercially farmed animal
- A stop sign
- Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 pieces of individual fruit
- Any controlled substance as defined in s. 893.02
A second degree felony for grand theft includes up to 15 years of prison time or probation and a fine of $10,000. You can be charged for a second degree felony for stealing:
- Any property that is valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000
- Emergency medical equipment
- Law enforcement equipment
A first degree felony for grand theft includes up to 30 years of prison time and a fine of $10,000. You can be charged for a first degree felony for stealing:
- Any property that is valued at $100,000 or more
- The property is stolen cargo valued at $50,000 that crosses state borders
- In the course of committing theft, the offender causes damage to another’s property in excess of $1,000
The specific crime may vary by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the act does not have to be completed in order to be considered grand theft; it is only the intent that matters in such cases. However, most jurisdictions require that the act be completed in order to be prosecuted as such. In some states grand theft is considered among the most heinous crimes and is normally used to refer to the theft of very expensive or dangerous items.
How Grand Theft Works
Grand theft differs from petty theft in that the latter is typically a misdemeanor. While grand theft, as a felony, normally carries a heavier penalty (generally three to five years), some states may have statute of limitations laws which may result in more severe punishment for petty theft.
In one jurisdiction, the crime of grand theft does not require the property to be located within the jurisdiction in order for the prosecution to try and prosecute someone for suspicion of the crime. However, many jurisdictions require the theft to have occurred within their jurisdiction.
The law of crimes does not require that a criminal be found guilty of every crime he commits. The same is true of our civil laws. If there is enough evidence to convict on one charge, the prosecutor and the judge will attempt to secure an acquittal on the other charges. In order for this to happen, there must be evidence that links the defendant with the crime.
For instance, if a carpenter tried to sell the wooden legs of a chair he had been hired to repair, the carpenter would be guilty of theft. He is not guilty because he sold the legs without the chair or because he did not own them originally. He is not guilty because he knew or did not know that they belonged to his client. He is guilty because he intended to (and in fact did) steal them for his own use and profit.
Similarly, when a man is charged with grand theft, the state must prove two things: First, that the property was stolen, and second, that the defendant stole it. It is not necessary to prove that the defendant (1) intended to steal the property; (2) knew he was stealing it; or (3) knew it belonged to someone else.
He may have stolen it innocently or accidentally. Even though the defendant did not intentionally steal the property, he is still guilty of grand theft if (1) he knew or should have known that the property belonged to someone else, and (2) he intended to transfer it or appropriate it for his own use and benefit.
The allegation of grand theft may have a wide range of meanings. However, the crime is a serious crime, which in many instances carries a substantial prison term. To avoid being prosecuted for grand theft, it is essential that you follow all of the strict rules and regulations concerning the purchase and ownership of antiques, jewelry and other valuables. As with any crime, it is wise to consult with a criminal attorney to discuss your rights and options.
If you have been arrested and charged with grand theft in Clearwater, Florida, you can contact Hanlon Law for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our lawyers are top-rated and have experience in the field.
Don’t wait to contact an attorney who can help reduce your charges. Call today to set up an appointment.
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Clearwater, FL 33755